Needham for Speed

“Megaforce” marked one of Needham’s only attempts at directing anything without Burt Reynolds in it. The next year, he and Reynolds would make the stupefyingly unfunny “Stroker Ace.” Interesting bit of trivia: Reynolds turned down the Jack Nicholson part in “Terms of Endearment” so he could make this. That’s priorities for you. Then, in 1984, “Cannonball Run 2” debuted. Reuniting the big names from the original, “Cannonball 2” garnered worse reviews than its predecessor, and soon sank from notice. Reynolds went on to make a series of one-word cop films (“Stick,” “Heat,” “Felch”) that hastened his career’s downward spiral. During this time, he also turned down the role of John McClane in “Die Hard.” Genius.

Needham made a couple more films, including the “radical” BMX flick “Rad,” and something called “Body Slam” that I’m too scared to look up. He and Reynolds reunited for the short-lived detective series “B.L. Stryker,” but Needham’s kept a pretty low profile ever since.

It matters not. Hal Needham has left a mark on the movies as big as a stadium truck tire. We owe him a great deal; from introducing legions of HBO-watching latchkey kids to the wonders of Susan Anton’s breasts to helping derail Burt Reynolds’ career for almost two decades. You may not be making movies anymore Hal, but I’m sure that’s only because your star burned too brightly and, dare I say, too fast to endure.

Ten-four. See you in the hammer lane.
Go ahead and talk to Pete about his “Footage”>>>

Posted on April 6, 2004 in Features by

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